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Coming out later in life brings a whole different set of challenges and questions about identity, community and where you fit in to all of that. 

This week I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to writer and podcaster Nicholas McInerny, who is the host of Rainbow Dads, a podcast that shares the stories of gay and bisexual dads, most of whom have come out later in life. 

But, we’re not here to talk about them – we’re here to find out about Nicholas, and his experiences navigating the gay scene after coming out. 

We talk all about the magic of Burning Man festival, the iconic London club night XXL, and one of my favourite topics ever – embarrassing sexual encounters!

Nicholas McInerney  00:00

I thought getting married sorted out the question of my sexuality once and for all. In the same way, actually, as I thought that coming out, would sort out my life once and for all. But it of course it doesn’t when you’ve just come out, it’s a huge thing. But it doesn’t actually change all sorts of other things about your life which maybe need to be addressed.

K Anderson  00:26

Hello, I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces. The podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories that they created there, and the people that they used to know. coming in later in life brings a whole different set of challenges and questions about identity community, and where you fit in to all of those things. This week, I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to writer and podcaster Nicholas McInerney, who is the host of rainbow dads, a podcast that shares the stories of gay and bisexual dads, most of whom have come out later in life. But we’re not here to talk about them. We’re here to find out about Nicholas and his experiences navigating the gay scene after coming out. We talk all about the magic of the Burning Man festival which was really transformative for Nicholas, the  iconic London club night XXL where he rubbed many a hairy chest and one of my favourite topics to discuss – embarrassing sexual encounters. Let’s get into it.

K Anderson  02:20

Just as a quick side note, how many times do you think we’re going to say ‘journey’ in this conversation?

Nicholas McInerney  02:29

Is there something else that we can say instead of journey?

K Anderson  02:31

I don’t know. I don’t have as much of a problem as some other people. I know some other people really hate it. But I do recognise the naffness of it as a term.

Nicholas McInerney  02:41

It’s like the word sex positive it sounds like something in a chemistry lab.

K Anderson  02:45

Well, I guess people are sex negative, but most people are just sex neutral, aren’t they?

Nicholas McInerney  02:50

Ooh, do you think? Why is that? Do you think?

K Anderson  02:54

Just – I mean, this whole we are sold this idea of sex. And it’s constantly fed to us. It’s constantly seen as this like Exciting, thrilling thing. And then sex is actually kind of mostly boring.

Nicholas McInerney  03:11

Darling, I don’t know what kind of sex you’ve been having.

K Anderson  03:13

I have been having mostly boring, you know, straight up about that. But like, you know, we’re given all these images and all these stories of how transformative sexes how amazing sex is. What a great connector. It is all these things. And so it’s very, very easy to get to a point where you’re like, oh, is this it? Yeah.

Nicholas McInerney  03:35

Expectation again, of course pornography feeds the fantasy element doesn’t?

K Anderson  03:39

Yeah, like I can’t do those positions are not comfortable. They might be good for the camera.

Nicholas McInerney  03:45

Oh, yes. You know, you switch on porn, and some has been double fisted. And it’s like what, you know, it’s

K Anderson  03:52

a witch farmers. Look it up lay down.

Nicholas McInerney  03:56

But you’re right. Yes, pornography sets up a whole set of really, really appalling expectations. But it’s still a powerful fantasy. I mean, if you recognise what it is, it can be a lot of fun.

K Anderson  04:07

And you don’t have to watch them cleaning up afterwards.

Nicholas McInerney  04:10

You don’t have to have awkward conversations, things like that. What was your name?

K Anderson  04:15

Yeah. And so what bus route are you taking to get home? Well, actually, I think that period after the sex is actually no, it’s not the best, but it can be a really good

Nicholas McInerney  04:29

bit. Yeah, no, no, absolutely. I’ve met some amazing guys who are friends, and the luck, buddy, through that experience. So yes, I agree with you. And I was talking about this with a friend the other day and I think actually, weirdly enough, once epic sexual fails, often the stories that you remember most and laugh about most. Ben, you think

K Anderson  04:50

I’m going to need some examples. I think

Nicholas McInerney  04:55

the example I changed is that my husband and I decided that we’d have some fun somebody came around and he was delightful. And maybe we got a little sparkly. And then I thought it would be a fantastic idea if I am a member of zip cars in London if I got a zip van and we went up to the local common, and we basically had a kind of orgy in the back of this van. So this was my really great idea. So at three o’clock in the morning, I booked this, I go and drive it up. Yes, I know, I know, you’re gonna say I should never have got in the van. No, I’m not gonna say that. We get up to the common. And we sit in the back. And I go out with this other chat and see if I can find anybody to who might want to come back consensually, of course to the back of our van. And it’s absolutely nobody there. So we’re just sitting naked in the back of a van imagining that at any moment, someone’s gonna knock on the door and go woof. But they never

K Anderson  05:50

do it. So you weren’t like, let’s go on Grindr or let’s go go to where the people

Nicholas McInerney  05:56

pass. We do that. Of course it is that it’s a multitrack approach to these things.

K Anderson  06:00

Ah, I see. Okay, multi funnel.

Nicholas McInerney  06:04

But on that particular time, it was a classic, epic fail, but very funny. And maybe you don’t at the time you kind of see the humour, but you certainly see the humour a months down the line. I mean, that’s what we joke about, you know, remember the time when, oh my god, that was ridiculous.

K Anderson  06:20

Remember the time when we didn’t have

Nicholas McInerney  06:25

we thinking? But surely everybody has experiences like that?

K Anderson  06:31

Oh, yeah, absolutely. I want to ask you follow up questions about fuck buddies, or friends with you call them friends with their friends. I have never managed to make that a thing that works. And it’s I think it’s largely because of the conversation portion. I either start to get feelings for them, or they have feelings for me, or vice versa. Or I realised what a terminal bore they are. And then I never want to see them again. How do you make it work?

Nicholas McInerney  07:02

Well, I’m in a relationship. I’ve been with my husband for 11 years. So there’s that that gives us you know, whatever happens in our kind of naughty moments, we always have each other to talk about it afterwards. So the conversation that you’re having with me about why doesn’t this happen for me with the conversation that we would have together? And I think that grounds us? I mean, you’ve got to like them, you know, but good fat body is somebody who comes around, you don’t necessarily fuck you might get naked and do something else. But you’ve got to like being with that person, haven’t you? To lying, goofing off and being stupid and and just kind of sharing a sense of humour and perhaps an outlook on the world or whatever. And I think that is what is important. Now, you described situations where you either start to develop feelings, is that a problem? You developing feelings for somebody? Or does that make suddenly? Why am I doing this? You said the first

K Anderson  07:57

thing said you were the therapist. Where you’re approaching these questions now, how does that make you feel?

Nicholas McInerney  08:04

I know so many guys who make it seem to make it their objective to either fall in love with men who aren’t available yet, or run from men whom they meet, you start to develop feelings for them. And in that instance, is a question of looking at yourself, I guess and what you want. I think there’s a lot of self sabotage that goes on. Don’t you think?

K Anderson  08:29

That you’re specifically saying that I am self sabotaging? Is that what’s happening?

Nicholas McInerney  08:33

I’m saying, genuinely, I think there’s a lot of self sabotage. I wouldn’t dream to say that. But what usually happens is somebody’s had a really, really wretched, horrible experience with a relationship and maybe they were hurt a lot. And I do absolutely, absolutely understand that it’s, you know, once that trust is gone, or that hurt that sense of betrayal. You know, it is a real process to get that back.

K Anderson  09:00

Oh, yeah. And it’s not like that’s not the situation for me. It’s just I think it’s that sometimes you consciously either prior to or after the first time you have sex with a particular person, you categorise them and think like, oh, yeah, well, this will be this because of this, this and this. And so you shag married, you do the thing. Yeah, yeah, there’s that thing where you’re kind of processing who that person is and will be in your life. And so you categorise them as like, this is someone who could be a fuck buddy, or this is someone who I am, you know, only going to sleep with this one time and then never see again.

09:38

So you make that decision. Yeah. And it’s not necessarily

K Anderson  09:41

like I sit down with a checklist and tick things off and go, Oh, yeah, the results of this test are fuck buddy or like friend or, you know, it’s just that your brain is constantly trying to categorise and make sense of the world, right? So it’s that kind of thing where you’re like, oh, yeah,

Nicholas McInerney  09:58

that is true. Maybe the invitation will be for you to try not to do that, because that is you trying to control yes, you’re trying to control your experience?

K Anderson  10:05

Is it control or just understand the yes,

Nicholas McInerney  10:09

a control because you’re making a decision about the nature of it, what it what it’s going to mean to you. I just sent the invitation would be to try not to do that allows something to happen.

K Anderson  10:21

But it’s not necessarily that I am like, this is the category I’m placing this interaction in, and I’m going to be very rigid about what that category means. It’s just that, oh, pragmatically, this is what I think it is. If I had to describe it to someone,

Nicholas McInerney  10:40

so you’re already thinking about how you’re going to talk about it?

K Anderson  10:44

No, I’m just saying to help describe what the process is in my brain. It’s that kind of thing of someone said, Oh, what is your relationship with such and such? That’s where I would draw that information from? And that’s how I would describe it. But I’m not going to go around talking about people that I’m sleeping with. That’s for the other podcast.

Nicholas McInerney  11:07

Is that the way you approach other things in your life? And maybe that it’s a pattern that you have? And it’s part of your temporal? Sorry?

K Anderson  11:18

Yes, I mean, you categorise everything in your life. Yeah. Like, that’s how human beings make sense of the world. You look at something and you process it,

Nicholas McInerney  11:27

but then those things can often be surprising. Oh, sure.

K Anderson  11:31

Yeah, yeah. But I’m not saying that. The way I categorise things is concrete and finite, and there’s no possibility of it, changing the categorization that’s been placed upon it. I’m just saying that that’s how I understand my experience, and

Nicholas McInerney  11:48

you have had experiences which you have categorised and then they’ve changed.

K Anderson  11:51

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay. Anyway, shall we talk about the so we were talking about your experience of, I’m using crude words, but like accepting a heterosexual track for yourself getting married and living the heteronormative existence during that like period of procreate? Sorry, my, my language skills are obviously evading me right now. Like, had you compartmentalised your sexuality?

Nicholas McInerney  12:33

Yes, I think I had. Okay. I think that’s absolutely accurate. I think I did. I put it in a box, I put it in Pandora’s box, and I tried to push it away, probably as far away as I could.

K Anderson  12:45

And so does that mean that you weren’t having sexual thoughts or that you were clamping down on them, as soon as they happened? Probably

Nicholas McInerney  12:53

a mixture. I wasn’t going out and having same sex experiences. I have other friends who’ve been in my situation, who were I think my marriage was actually successful. We had two wonderful children, I really enjoyed bringing them up and being a dad. So there were other things to compensate. But it was clear as I grew older, particularly as the girls started to move away and to grow into adolescence. But that’s true for many, many marriages, there is this moment of trying to reconnect. And for me, it involved having to be more honest about who I really was and being more authentic.

K Anderson  13:30

When did you recognise that for yourself?

Nicholas McInerney  13:34

That’s a good question. I’m trying to think if there was any specific moment, I don’t think so it was a journey.

K Anderson  13:42

It was that word again,

Nicholas McInerney  13:43

is that word, there’s that word again. My ex wife and I decided to do some SSS and tantric work, very interesting, work around energies, work around opening up ideas around sexuality for debt, what monogamy meant all of those things. And that provided a safe context in which to explore some of these things.

K Anderson  14:03

And so what, like just very, very quickly, what does that actually mean? Like, did you go to a tantric therapist or Yeah,

Nicholas McInerney  14:10

we went to we joined a group and ongoing couples group, which met five times a year for a training. And that was down in the West Country. Okay. And we would go down on Thursday and come back on Sunday, and we would do all sorts of rituals around energy work sexuality around notion of binaries around rebirthing I know it sounds crazy self pleasuring, it was really fascinating and profoundly challenging and inspirational, at times, it has said has given me a lot of tools to navigate sex and relationships and intimacy, most particularly because that’s what it’s all about. Since then,

K Anderson  14:52

and so you, you started this tantric work, because you were coming to terms with your sexuality or you came to terms with their sexuality because of the work. I think

Nicholas McInerney  15:04

the tantric work became part of that journey. Part of that process. You

K Anderson  15:10

can say journey. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m not journey shaming.

Nicholas McInerney  15:15

I like that journey journey. I, I took ecstasy for the first time. And I think that’s a very interesting experience. Why? Oh, because it’s, it’s an experience that connects you with people. Okay. And obviously, it’s particularly powerful in a context of dancing. It was used in the 1960s in marriage guidance. I don’t know if you know that, but Oh, no, no, they used to give it to couples, because it allows couples to feel more connected and to be more open and more empathic. Yeah, I mean, they use ketamine at the moment to treat severe depression. Yes, yeah. Yeah, it’s these, these drugs can have a really powerful, interventional power. I also went to his festival Burning Man. And that is an extraordinary experience in that, you know, you, one of the things you do is you can go onto the playa into the festival, and you can effectively be somebody else for a week, you have a different name. You don’t wear a watch, there’s no, don’t wear a watch. No, you know, you’re not loud. So but if you don’t have a watch and a mobile phone, it starts to you change your sense of yourself, the way you interact with people again, you’re more in the moment, because you’re never at the moment. He’s standing there staring at your phone if you’re you, and if you meet

K Anderson  16:34

Oh, yeah, I totally get the phone point. But what if you just want to know the time?

Nicholas McInerney  16:39

Well, I mean, nobody’s banned from wearing a watch. It’s just doesn’t seem necessary. And you can say to somebody, I’ll meet you at dusk or you know, and also, it’s a it’s a gift culture, you can’t buy or sell anything there. And that really profoundly changes how you interact with people. And I met someone there and I had a very intense week long affair, that kind of holiday.

K Anderson  17:06

So let’s just go back one step. Why were you going there in the first place?

Nicholas McInerney  17:11

Because I wanted to experience what it was like I wanted to challenge myself, I’m I was invited by one of my oldest and dearest friends. So it was part of my friendship with him and his wife. A whole raft of reasons as you got older, my sense is that I want fewer things and more experiences. So I think it was part of that.

K Anderson  17:35

So you get there, and you meet someone and you have this week long romance. But how did you meet what happened?

Nicholas McInerney  17:41

We met at a as an afternoon dance club or district. We met there. He was from Flagstaff, Arizona. He was also a gay dad, he’d also been married. So there was lots of points of similarity. And, you know, dispenser the ASAF him. So it felt like the right opportunity to explore a few things, which is kind of what Burning Man is about. So yeah, so that’s, that’s what happened. He’s become a good friend.

K Anderson  18:07

And so was this your first gay experience?

Nicholas McInerney  18:11

No, I mean, obviously, I’ve had plenty of gay experiences when I was much younger, but probably the first one isn’t for 20 or so years. Yes, I would say probably at

K Anderson  18:21

what point were you out with your wife then at this stage?

Nicholas McInerney  18:24

I mean, when I went out there, we negotiated, you know, that I will be able to go and there was, I think a an awareness that it may be an opportunity for me to have some same sex experiences. You know, it’s a very eroticized place Burning Man. You know, it’s clothing optional. You know, it’s a bit gayborhood at that, and those days, people were having, there was no public sex and all sorts of things happening. It was really full on, it’s full on. It’s a spinal tap 11. And that the first time I went, I felt very intimidated by it and unable to know how to fit in. But it what it did do. It made me admit to my friends that I was gay for the first time. So that was a very important moment. The second time I went, I understood the nature of it had to transact in negotiations a little bit better. probably felt a wee bit more confident. And so I was ready to part A, as I say, who says that? Somebody who’s just been on a journey.

K Anderson  19:27

I will stay away from them. So Burning Man was important. In Oh, I’m about to whip it out was important in your journey of accepting your sexuality. Yes. Yes, yes, it was. Because of that stripping down.

Nicholas McInerney  19:44

There’s lots of sayings on the playa, you know, the PLAR gives you what you need rather than what you want. It’s a very sexually free place. It’s a place where people do go to experiment. You know, if you go with your partner, it’s quite challenging. You know, you need to have clarity of communication and issues around consent and agreements about what it is that you want to explore together. One of the things is safety. Third, we’re very pleased, you know, strangely, very pleased to hang around desires. And, and Burning Man creates an environment which says to you, if you could do anything that you wanted, what would that thing be? And be responsible for? Because that’s the other part of it, I think we will have rich fantasy lives, but we kind of don’t want to take responsibility for them. Burning Man does put you in the driving seat, but it does say you have to be responsible. So it’s an opportunity to to absolutely be yourself in the moment,

K Anderson  20:45

and the guilt about thoughts and feelings? If you’ve talked generally about people, what about yourself? And what did it allow you to let go?

Nicholas McInerney  20:58

It allowed me to let go of a version of myself, that I didn’t think was the real me. And it allowed me to move closer towards being my authentic self. So he took me away from the roles that I had, some of which I was comfortable with being a father, some of which I was less comfortable with, and move towards something that was more integrated, and more all those elements of my character are more woven.

K Anderson  21:29

What was it like coming back from Burning Man, and having had this experience and having to potentially make changes to your life in order to respond to the change inside?

Nicholas McInerney  21:43

Thrilling, terrifying, necessary, all of those things, I suppose. So, of course, I fell in love with this chap that I met. And when you fall in love, you are capable of doing some really quite selfish things. I think it’s funny, and he kind of bypasses any rational aspect. So there was that? terrifying because obviously, there are implications, what’s this mean? But overwhelmingly a sense that this was a necessary next step, and that I’d opened something I could not pretend otherwise. Now I had to come out. And of course, you know, when I told my friends and say, Oh, guest anyway, you know what it’s like, a piece of information that you think is really, really shocked them really personal and it makes you very vulnerable, of course. And that’s what you’re feeling when you reveal that about yourself. But to them, of course, you you are that person, but this is not up to them to say. So a whole a whole range of feelings. What’s the

K Anderson  22:47

most appropriate response when that happens? Should you be? Because it’s kind of a bit of a letdown, right? When you’re like, I have something to tell you. And they’re like, oh, yeah, I knew they should. Should they be? Oh, what are you talking about?

Nicholas McInerney  23:03

What do you think? What do you think there should be a proscenium arch theatre? There should be music player. There should be Julie Andrews.

K Anderson  23:10

Okay. Yeah, I think we can book her.

Nicholas McInerney  23:14

That’s a really good question. The really important thing, actually, in all of this is to be a good listener. I think if somebody is trying to tell you something that’s really is difficult for them, and makes them very, very vulnerable. What you should be able to do is to be able to listen actively, and give them that time, rather, that you’re doing at the moment, listen in such a way as to pick up on perhaps some of the language that’s used, or a phrase and just reflect that back to them. Because that will enable them to say a little more. That’s the being an active and engaged listeners.

K Anderson  23:58

And is this ceremony before after that?

Nicholas McInerney  24:03

Well, I think ceremony and ritual are very important in our lives. I don’t you know, when we decided we didn’t believe in God, we chucked everything else out and actually we need the ceremonies and rituals. And maybe there is a ceremony around coming out. I don’t know.

K Anderson  24:18

Can we create something that becomes mainstream in the community? What could it be? Feel like there should be a dance move somehow, in some kind of welcome to the tribe? To demonstrate, I’m gonna I’m gonna workshop this I will get back to you with a few options because I’m all about options. But yeah, I do think we can judge it up a bit, you know? Okay, so you’ve you’ve done this thing you’ve come out to your friends or your friends have been like, oh, yeah, kinda kind of knew that already. And you’ve got that deflation, but you’ve also got that opportunity of being an out gay man and exploring this scene and growing and frolicking with men in their natural habitat, which is obviously a dank, dark, dark, dark.

Nicholas McInerney  25:14

That’s kind of somehow really exciting it really depressing at the same time.

K Anderson  25:18

Yeah, all these strange fluids on the wall, Oh, happy

Nicholas McInerney  25:22

days.

K Anderson  25:24

You go out on the sea, like what was that like as someone who wasn’t going as a teenager?

Nicholas McInerney  25:32

Well, I think it’s a mixture of excitement and again, intimidation, you’re kind of working out where you fit in. And obviously, there was a club then called XXL in London, very, very popular, which I suppose catered for the bear community. It was a club.

K Anderson  25:47

So hang on, hang on, very quickly. So when you came out as a gay man, did you then go, Oh, I must be a bear.

Nicholas McInerney  25:55

I don’t think I did that immediate. But I pretty soon realised that I probably was kind of classic

K Anderson  26:04

bear. So this is the categorization thing again.

Nicholas McInerney  26:09

No, I completely agree. And in a funny sort of way, although that was my entry point. You know, obviously, I would still self identify as a bear. I do feel a lot more ambiguous about all of that. Because I do feel it is you’re quite right. I think it’s limiting. And it can allow for terrible hierarchy to develop within the gay LGBT community, which can be very nasty and oppressive. Which is ironic, isn’t that, given what everybody’s been fighting? Yeah.

K Anderson  26:38

But you know, they are human beings. So kind of not surprising at the same time. Okay, so then that was their thought process, though. You were like, I need to find a scene that I can find my tribe, my need to find my tribe. On my journey. I’m looking for my tribe. And so the decision was XXL. What was it like there the first time then what was it like going in?

Nicholas McInerney  27:01

I mean, it was it was fun. I enjoyed the music, I love to dance. Lots of people were taking their shirts off, that it was friendly. The darkroom was worth exploring. I mean, I’ve had my moments in the darkroom. And we all I’ve always enjoyed being with a group going out to a class. So that was always part of the experience. It was a way of finding where I fitted in. And I had a good experience. Very grateful for it very grateful for it. I mean, it was very affirming.

K Anderson  27:36

So it was it immediately affirming. You said before going, it was intimidating. This idea of it was scary. Did you walk in and think, Wow, I’m home? Sorry, that’s a bit wonky?

Nicholas McInerney  27:48

No, no. But I take your point, I think I think that we always approach new experiences, feeling slightly concerned about how we’re going to respond. I mean, it’s a bit like when x and I sat in the car going off to a sex club for the first time, it was very, very quiet. And

K Anderson  28:06

you didn’t hire a van this time,

Nicholas McInerney  28:09

Dolly we hired without giving up. So much in life, in any experience is about managing expectations. And then some of the very best experiences when has sexually clubbing friends, or when things happen that you didn’t expect. So what one really tries to do is to is to damp, try to get rid of a whole raft of expectations. So that one can just respond to what happens. But I think that when I was with my ex, we would go to exile quite regularly. It was it was wonderful to be in a large place full of hot guys just being themselves really. I think the world needs a lot more flirting. It doesn’t doesn’t have to go somewhere, but it’s appreciation of each other. I always think that gay men are very bad at taking compliments. I’ve noticed this is a generalisation bad at taking compliments. It’s true, though. On the whole. If it’s a default of hotness, gay men are above it. He talked to me straight away straight girlfriends. They will say to you that the average gay man is better looking than the average. But But gay men think that they’re less attractive. Were straight men or straight men think they’re fucking Brad Pitt don’t know. You know, when I take my straight girlfriends to the RVT or whatever, and they’re surrounded by all these guys with their shirts off. They’re in my heaven, really. Except, of course, nobody’s gonna take them home.

K Anderson  29:43

It is super interesting and it goes back to the whole thing of socialisation in the way that we’re taught. You know, what we’re taught is attractive. What we’re taught is the desire to male thing and you know, there is not a day goes by that I do not wish that I had the confidence of a The average sis heterosexual male, like that would just be so beneficial.

Nicholas McInerney  30:06

Yeah, is interesting. But it’s a bullshit.

K Anderson  30:10

Just so like you do not like, Why do you have this confidence? Because you’re so like, yeah, like, that would be amazing.

Nicholas McInerney  30:21

Don’t forget, there’s a whole process of socialisation. And society views that back that up, you know, the rise of the app has kind of taken away our need to deal with each other in real life. There’s a process of screening isn’t there even before you start flirting with someone, which in some respects, is a good thing. But of course, it does make the whole process of negotiating kind of intimacy, we’re coming back to your conversations earlier about, you know, Shag, Marry, Kill, you know, it makes that more more difficult,

K Anderson  30:54

much. And just so we’re clear, I wouldn’t kill any of them. Well,

Nicholas McInerney  30:58

maybe there are a few.

K Anderson  31:00

I think it’s gonna be super interesting. Whether I always do this on this show is like talk about how fucked the younger generation are. But it’d be really interesting to see whether or not any of them are going to have any skills in flirting, because of this filtering because of this process that isn’t there. Now, the

Nicholas McInerney  31:21

noise and you make a very, very good point, I’ve got a very good friend who’s a director who’s just directing the show, one of the theatre schools in London, she made several observations, she said, there seems to be everybody seems to have some mental illness issue. Now, everybody. And she said that they will want an intimacy coach for everything, even when they’re not touching each other. And her last comment was, that they know they have been fucked by the pandemic, I think the pandemic has been such a traumatic experience for younger people in particular, it’s created all sorts of issues around intimacy and consent. Now, the consent thing is important, obviously, but the whole issue around consent has kind of veered into this weird new puritanism. My experience of being in a gay club is that guys do grab my ass or or want to rub your chest or something, I feel I am sufficiently strong enough to deal with some of these advances that I don’t want. And undoubtedly, people have tried to stick their hand on my charts or something when I’ve been like, no, but I do think there’s a good skills to for us to have, because we’re going to need Yeah, but I wouldn’t allow to spoil my

K Anderson  32:27

work. So first of all, I think everyone has always had a mental health problem, we just have language and less stigma in order to discuss it more now. And so that’s why it seems as though everyone’s got a mental health problem. The other thing is, I find it easy to say no to people, but I am also a tall, white cisgendered man, and who’s never experienced anything traumatic in terms of a violation of my personal space. So I recognise that I am very privileged there. I don’t have the same experiences as other people. And I get I get what you’re saying. So I’m not trying to like, completely shut it down. But

Nicholas McInerney  33:12

no, no, no, no, it’s it’s a good conversation to have. And it’s a good conversation to have because it’s about difficult things. And at the moment, it feels like we’re trying to avoid having these conversations because people are worried about saying the wrong thing. I think issues around consent, a fascinating, fascinating. Our sense of our own desire about the whole gay roles and domination submission to digital playing with power is so deeply nuanced.

K Anderson  33:39

Yeah, right. Okay. So XXL, you went to XXL. The final question before, like the final question before we get to the final question. How do you feel about shirtless bodies on a dance floor rubbing up against each other? Are you pro or against you for it? Ah, I just think it’s gross. Anyway, that’s a me thing. That’s not a new thing. So let’s then close out the conversation. You’ve went to XXL you went and you experience there’s no way of talking about it without sounding really wonky. And hopefully you experienced that shared community you embodied your your gayness in that space. Now I’m just ramping it up. What did that space teach you about yourself?

Nicholas McInerney  34:32

Well, the single most important thing is acceptance. That there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not a pervert. Well, I am but I’m not that kind of that, you know? I own my sluggishness rather than have you decide that I am that thing. Community. I mean, you know, there is a tribal thing there. There’s some really lovely interesting guys interesting. Who’s in that word again, journey. Whenever you meet someone before In the LGBTQ community, there’s always a little bit of a, we’re coming out all the time, aren’t we? So the stories that we tell each other ones that we can learn from all of those things came out of SSL, perhaps not immediately but gradually. But, but chief is acceptance, self acceptance and acceptance of others. It’s been as important a part of my embracing my gay identity as any of the kind of explorations of actual sexuality. And I’m very grateful for it.

K Anderson  35:35

Do you have any memories of x x l or clubbing from your own queer scene that you want to share? Well, if you do, I would love to hear from you. I want to create the biggest online record of people’s memories and stories of queer clubbing, go to law spaces podcast.com and find this section share a lost space and tell me all about what it is that you got up to. You can also reach out to me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, where my handle is lost spaces pod. Find out more about Nicolas by following him on Twitter where his handle is N McInerney n m c i n e r n y or listen to the rainbow dad’s podcast wherever you stream podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribe, left a review on your podcast platform or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces